Westbrook was out of the gate fast in the Spirit of Daytona Corvette. (Marshall Pruett photo)
Practice for this weekend’s Rolex 24 at Daytona kicked off Thursday morning with Spirit of Daytona driver Richard Westbrook posting the quickest lap overall in the session in his Corvette DP at 1:39.462. A total of 66 cars spread across the event’s four classes posted laps in the hour-long session at Daytona International Speedway.
There was a single incident in the session involving Alex Job Racing driver Alex Riberas whose Porsche 911 GT America made contact in Turn 5. Riberas was cleared to drive following the incident, but the car sustained significant damage to the front of the GTD car.
Christian Fittipaldi came home in the second position overall with a time of 1:39.764 in the No. 5 Action Express Racing Corvette DP. Fittipaldi was followed on the chart by Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates driver Scott Pruett who posted a top lap of 1:40.147 in the team’s Riley DP.
The Prototype Challenge (PC) class was led by Colin Braun with a top lap of 1.42.023 in the CORE Autosport entry. Braun was followed in class by No. 87 Sean Rayhall (1.44.452) and No. 52 Gunnar Jeannette (1.44.939).
Antonio Garica was quickest in GTLM with a top lap of 1.46.036 and was followed on the chart by Marc Goossens (1.46.090) and Darren Turner in the No. 97 Aston Martin Racing Vantage V8 (1.46.101).
Fall-Line Motorsports Audi R8 driver Oliver Jarvis led the GTD class with a lap of 1:47.892, followed by GB Autosports’ Damien Faulkner who turned a 1:48.077 in his Porsche 911 GT America. A surprise third in class went to The Racer’s Group and driver James Davison, who pushed his Aston Martin V12 Vantage to a best lap of 1:48.139.
The DeltaWing spent most of the session sidelined, but emerged with 17 minutes remaining in the 60-minute session. It lapped running on to 3.5 cylinders when it did appear.
The most anticipated session of the new year revealed a few interesting facts about IMSA’s pre-Rolex 24 Balance of Performance adjustments.
DPs held the first five positions overall, with the top P2 entry from Muscle Milk Pickett Racing taking eighth at 1:41.032, 1.5 seconds behind the leading DP time. P2 cars setting representative lap times were eighth, 12th and 15th overall.
The speed demonstrated by Corvette Racing and SRT Viper in the GTLM category at the Roar Before The 24 was on display again, running 1-2. Of note, the top eight GTLM cars were covered by 1.08 seconds.
In GTD, six marques were within .661 seconds of each other. Practice 2 will give another sample of how the non-spec classes have been balanced, and at first glance, the GT cars appear to be fairly close.
Tune in for the 52nd Rolex 24 At Daytona at the following times:
Saturday, Jan. 25
2-4 p.m. ET on FOX (Live)
4-9 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 2 (Live)
Overnight (Jan. 25-26)
9 p.m. – 7 a.m. ET on IMSA.com (includes live images, in-car cameras and announcers)
Sunday, Jan. 26
7 a.m. – 3 p.m. on FOX Sports 1 (Live)
Tune in for the Daytona season opener at the following time:
Friday, Jan. 24
6 p.m. on FOX Sports 2 (Same Day)